Following their 1-0 victory over Ecuador Thursday night, Argentina reflected on their performance and the challenges that await them.
Lionel Messi’s 78th-minute free kick – a moment of genius – was all that separated Argentina from a very composed Ecuador side who held their ground throughout the entire 90 minutes. Realizing and acknowledging that postgame, Argentina celebrated their success while looking ahead to the road that awaits them.
“It was shown in the two friendlies and today, by the points, that this group is not going to relax beyond what it achieved. It was historic, extraordinary,” captain Messi said postgame.
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“We know that if we go down a little they will pass us over. There are going to be tough matches like this. Defeats, surely. We have to be as we are now, with our feet on the ground. Fight every game as we have been fighting since Scaloni started with All this”.
“We already knew it was going to be like this, especially because of the way the Qualifiers are. We knew that it is very difficult to win, that they are all very close matches.”
“Ecuador is a great team. They have been showing since the last Qualifiers that they have very good players, that they are physically strong, that they are clear about what they do, although they changed coaches and now they are trying something else. What they do, they do very Well, we know what we had to do to get it going.”
The 36-year-old then stressed the importance of acknowledging that “everybody wants to beat Argentina.”
“Now that we are world champions, even more. That’s why we can’t go down. We even have to go up a little more than we were doing. The demand in each game is maximum and, surely more and more.”
Head coach Lionel Scaloni added postgame that he’s consistently seen his side improve during his tenure and that he’s proud of the effort his side put in.
When I started, I didn’t know that I was going to be there for five years, exactly. It seems like it was recently, there were difficult moments and, if you remember that, you realize that time has passed. You go improving with experience and matches.
I’m proud of the match that the boys played, it was incredible. It was played to the limit as a Qualifying match has to be played.